Analysing War Poetry

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Introduction:
Poetry is a way to express opinions and ideas and this can often be more effectively achieved through song. Analysing a poem or song lyrics involves explaining the subject matter, identifying and discussing the impact of using poetic devices and commenting on the mood created.

Analysis: The Hero – Siegfried Sassoon
‘The Hero’ by Siegfried Sassoon tells a story of an officer who is sent to inform and console a mother of a fallen soldier, her son. The poem is split into three stanzas, each sharing a diverse viewpoint of what has occurred. The first stanza focuses on the mother’s glowing pride as she’s convinced that her brave son is a hero of war, which comforts her a little from the obvious misery portrayed. The last phrase in this stanza supporting this is: ‘She half looked up. ‘We mothers are so proud - of our dead soldiers.’ Then her face was bowed’. The author has described that this is a common event and many families have suffered a similar fate.

The second stanza leads away from the heartfelt beginning with the line ‘He’d told the poor old dear some gallant lies’. This causes confusion within the readers’ minds as it becomes evident that there is more depth to the story than the first stanza implied. It also indicates that the Officer may want to not only shield the family but also protect the reputation of the Armed Forces. The metaphor ‘her weak eyes had shone with gentle triumph’ states that the emotional woman’s expression was full of honour and nobility.

In the third stanza, the poem concentrates plainly on the Officer and his memories of the lady’s son, Jack. He reflects on how Jack was not actually the brave, glorious soldier as described to his mother. Many soldiers hoped to get a ‘Blighty wound’, which was an injury serious enough to require recovery away from the trenches but not to the extent of death or permanent damage. The phrase, ‘Went up at Wicked Corner; how he’d tried – To get sent home, and how, at last, he...
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